Saturday, May 24, 2014
The alarm went off at 7 am, I quickly ran to turn it off and instead of going right back to bed, I started to get ready for our first day of vacation!!! Agenda for today – hopefully Symi! Why I said hopefully? Well because I tried to book the ferry tickets online and it was sold out so my plan is to go to the ticket office and hopefully we have luck 🙂 Two ways to visit Symi for a day from Rhodes: join a tour or go on your own using Dodeksanisos Seaways (website: http://www.12ne.gr/en/). Disadvantage of going with a tour: their ferry is the slow one which takes two hours to get there and since I can easily get seasick and doesn’t want to waste our precious vacation time, I’ll go with the Dodeksanisos Seaways. Their ship: PANAGIA SKIADENI is exactly for day trippers: departing Rhodes at 9:00, making a stop at the monastery of Panormitis (arriving at 10:30 am and leaving at 11:45 am), then heading to Symi (arriving at 12:30 pm and leaving at 4:30 pm which gives 4 full hours in Symi and get back to Rhodes just in time for dinner at 6:00 pm).
I found out that on Saturday, their other ship: DODEKANISOS EXPRESS, makes the same route but faster time: departing Rhodes at 9:30, making a stop at the monastery of Panormitis (arriving at 10:20 am and leaving at 11:30 am), then heading to Symi (arriving at 12:00 pm and leaving at 4:30 pm which gives 4.5 hours in Symi and back to Rhodes at 5:20 pm). Make sure to check their itineraries at their website. To book the ticket online, you’ll need to buy the to and back tickets separately because the to route is Rhodes – Panormitis whereas the back route is Symi – Rhodes. The total cost for the round trip is 34 euros per person.
We took the bus to Rhodes town, the last stop, it was a 10 min ride from our hotel. The bus was clean and cost 2.3 euros per person (I had some left over euros from my last trip).
First thing off the bus – ATM to get cash! There is an Alpha Bank right across the bus station so I use my Bank of America debit card to withdraw some euros (note that BoA charged $5 per transaction plus 3% foreign currency fee). Credit card is widely accepted in all restaurants I went to in Greece except for one but I still need some cash for buses, souvenirs, and other small things. Afterwards, we walked down to the pier and spotted a Dodeksanisos Seaways ticket counter. I asked and luckily there were tickets available for today!!! I purchased the tickets with my credit card and then walked to Kolona pier. Note that different ship departs from different pier so ask to double check!!!
On the way, we passed by the Sea Gates and we stopped for a few minutes for photos. It was my first impression of Rhodes – a lovely medieval town by the coast. It was early in the morning so not much tourists which was great!
There was a stairway to walk up to the wall but need to be careful since there’s no rails. We did a quick stop since we need to catch the ferry so we’ll be back later!
We walked past the Sea Gates and along the harbor where filled with ships!
We got there at 9 and boarded the ship. The ship was big and can carry some passenger cars. We headed right to the 2nd level for the nice view of the town. Off we sail to Symi!
The 50 minutes ride went by quickly and we have arrived at the monastery of Panormitis! We could see the monastery from a distance and as we were approaching, the bell tower really caught my eyes along with the turquoise water!
The water was really crystal clear that I could see the bottom!
We went right straight into the monastery before it gets crowded.
The lovely white arches with cream colored walls and the colorful flowers matched so well together that they created a peaceful and relaxing place to be.
We walked up to the 2nd floor to get a glimpse of the famous bell tower! Speechless – it was truly a unique architecture!
On the corridor of the 2nd floor:
You really have to knee down in order to get the full tower in the picture – thanks hubby!
Whereas if you stand to take the picture……we asked a French man we met from the ship to help us took this photo, can’t blame him 🙂
This side of Symi was very quiet, probably just the monks and tourists were there.
Instead of visiting the museum, we came out to take some photos:
I saw this fisherman weaving net, he was very nice to show me and smile to my camera! I was amazed on how fast he can weaved!
A photo of us with hubby’s video stabilizer…we discovered could be use as a mini tripod!
The ship left right on time and we headed to Symi!!! As we were approaching Symi, it was more beautiful than what I had on my mind. I have seen a video of its colorful houses, that was how I found out about this little island, but it was 10x more beautiful. I am not exaggerating, look at the photos and you’ll agree with me!
It was one of the most colorful islands I have been to so far (another one is Burano, Italy). We got off the ship and my stomach reminded me it was lunch time! We stopped by Manos seafood restaurant which was right in front of the water, I saw a guide video that recommended this for fresh seafood. Hubby was attracted by its fried seafood for two for 60 euros and he was determined to get that LOL. It was a pricey lunch but definitely worth for its quality and the view.
The view first: the mountain filled with pastel colored houses right in front of my eyes!
The food: huge plate of seafood!!!
King prawns, variety of fried fishes, fried calamaris, fried octopus, and the famous Symi Shrimps. I highly recommended the Symi Shrimps, I only see those in Symi and in Rhodes!
My favorite king prawn, it tasted so fresh and yummy!
Hubby had a great lunch eating all those fishes since I don’t really like fish haha!
The huge plate of seafood plus mineral water came to be 64 euros plus 2 euros tips, it was the most expensive lunch we had in Greece but it was a “once in a lifetime” meal.
Right after lunch, we walked around to enjoy more of its beauty. Majority of the souvenir shops sell sponges which made Symi wealthy in the nineteenth century.
The port area wasn’t big and could easily walked from one end to another in 15 minutes but its spectacular landscape made us stop every few steps for photos!
The baby pink and blue boats matched its pastel colored town!
It was really hard for me to describe my happiness of being in this little island, I was so glad that I found this and made it there!
We walked from one end to another, bought a bottle of cold water for 50 cents euro and ready to climb the stairs!
I read somewhere that there was a stairway to climb up to have a great view of the town but I wasn’t sure if this was the one but we climbed it anyways. The view was absolutely amazing!!!
Photo of us 🙂
“Behind the scene” of the photo of us LOL!
Doesn’t it look like it came out of a postcard?
Be very careful with the cactus!
By the time we came down from the stairs, we were hot and tired due to the hot sun so we sat down and enjoy the nice scenery. We stopped at a cafe to rest and had iced cold drinks – hubby had a juice and I had a cold frappe! Smoothies in Greece is very expensive (no idea why), but it cost at least 6 euros!! After a long rest, we were out again for more photos, can’t get enough of Symi!
The 4.5 hours quickly went by and time to leave 😦
Goodbye Symi, we were fortunate enough to met you and hope to come back some day!
We got back to Rhodes early enough to do some souvenir shopping and then dinner. We walked to the entrance of the medieval walls!
The Old Town of Rhodes, charming but crowded.
This was one of the medieval street, however, we walked by many beggars…
Unique souvenir shop – a boat selling seashell gifts!
We walked back to the Sea Gates again, see I told you that we’ll be back LOL! Actually, we were back for many times 😛 We passed this almost every single day!
Time for dinner, we walked back to the souvenir street – Sokratous!
We had our first dinner in Rhodes at ARCHIPELAGOS for its view of the Old Town.
Food prices were actually acceptable being in the center of the tourist area! We ordered the steam mussels (little bit overcooked), chicken souvlaki, and fried calamaris. Total bill was 41.9 euros, not bad for a dinner with a view 🙂
On our way walking back to the bus station, we passed by many souvenir shops.
The seashell souvenir boat was lit up!
The only disadvantage of staying out of the town was the bus ride back to the hotel, pretty expensive if you add it up, 2.3 euros per person, so total one day we spent at least 9.2 euros for transportation. The hotel at night, it was a large hotel!
The pool area, it was empty!!!
Our “ocean view” room…..good night Rhodes, we really enjoyed our first day of our two weeks vacation!!! Symi really surprised me, it was more beautiful than I ever have imagined, I was really glad that I found and visited this hidden gem!